Sunday, 29 January 2012

Music Is The Food Of Love

Some lovely praise music to enjoy on our Sabbath Day ...

We did not have either of these hymns at Church today but I thought I would share them with you anyways as they are both favourites of ours. "Sing Hosannah" is the song we both have on our lips, whenever we need to cheer ourselves up. And Papa Bear gave me a sweet watch with the Precious Moments characters on it for my birthday last September and it has a button on it, which plays "This Little Light Of Mine"! Whenever I hear that tune it brightens my heart! It surprises everyone to hear my watch playing beautiful music!
I was very busy yesterday with my Saturday chores. But I still had time to indulge in my favourite pass time - cooking!
This is what we had for our tea (evening meal) yesterday ...

Yum! It was delicious!
We had it a bit earlier than we normally do, owing to the football being on TV. It meant a bit of clever timing, but I managed to serve it up just as the kick off whistle sounded. And it was sooo yummy. For the first course we had this ...

This is chilli bean tortilla bake. It is so easy to do, and not expensive either. We have this often. I do find that using beans you have soaked and cooked yourself, rather than canned, provides a richer flavour and texture. Canned beans are fine, but do have a go at trying home prepared ones, if you have time.
If you would like to make this lovely dish, this is what you do ...

2 tablespoons cooking oil (we always use Crisp'n'Dry)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
about 5 cups of mixed beans, either canned (about 2 14 oz cans) or prepared beforehand (About 1 1/2 cups dried beans).
If you choose the prepared beforehand option, you will need to start this meal the night before. Soak the pulses overnight, then drain, place in a saucepan, cover with fresh water and boil fiercely for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. When they are done, drain them and leave until you are ready to cook the rest of the dish). As regards what sort of beans to use, I tend to buy a bag of mixed which has about 10 different varieties, but I often add extra butterbeans, as they seem to lend a lovely richness to the dish.
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
About 1 cup boiling water
1 large bag tortilla chips, any flavour
2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

1. Start by putting the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and heating on a fairly high heat (I start with the highest temperature on the stovetop and then turn down a couple of notches).
2. Add to this the chopped onions and garlic, and sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon salt (this will prevent them from browning too much).
3. Gently sautee for about 7 minutes, until really soft, stirring now and then.
4. Then add the chopped red pepper, and sautee again until soft (about 4 minutes).
5. Add to this the can of chopped tomatoes, and turn the heat back up, just briefly, until the tomatoes are simmering quite rapidly.
6. Then add the chilli powder. Turn the heat back down to medium, and add the beans. Give everything a good stir.
7. Depending on whether you used canned beans or home prepared ones, you may need to add a little hot water to loosen up the mixture. You are aiming for pretty much the consistency of canned baked beans in tomato sauce, but definitely no thinner than this. I added about 1/2 cup boiling water today.
8. Add the stock cube, crumbled. Because of the stock, you shouldn't need to add any extra salt to this recipe.
9. Now cover the saucepan with a lid, and turn the heat right down to the lowest but one setting (on our stove, this is "2"). Leave to simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
10. Now get out a large flat casserole dish (as pictured above, this is a lovely red earthenware dish which Papa Bear very sweetly gave me for Christmas and which I adore) and pour the bean mixture in.
11. Cover the mixture with the tortilla chips, spreading evenly so as much of the mixture is covered as possible. Depending on the size of your dish you may find you have slightly too many or too few, but don't worry, it will be fine anyways.
12. Then sprinkle over the top of the tortilla chips all the grated cheese.
13. Place on the lowest shelf in a moderate oven, and bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden and brown in places. Then serve! We have it just as it comes with no additions, but it would be very good with rice, or some salad leaves (with some coriander, ideally).
After that you might have thought we were pretty full, but no, we had room for this delicious dessert ...

Blueberry Buckle!
I was able to make this only because dear Grandmama Bear had a huge box of the most beautiful big ripe blueberries that needed eating up, and which she did not fancy, having been so sick recently. So she gave them to us! Oh my goodness was I pleased! I decided to make this scrumptious dish which we all adore, but which I don't make often as the quantity of blueberries required (2 whole cups) makes it rather expensive. Thank you Grandmama Bear! What a wonderful treat! (She was so delighted too, when I told her today what I had baked. She was so glad those beautiful blueberries did not go to waste).
The recipe for this dessert comes from a cookbook of mine called the "Lancaster County Cookbook" by Louise Stoltfus and Jan Mast. It is full of wonderful "plain folk" recipes with a simple, homespun theme. And among them is this treasure!

For the buckle ...
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine, shortening or butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (may need more)
2 cups flour (I always use self rising - in fact that's another frugal kitchen hint! You can use self rising flour in just about any recipe but you can't substitute plain flour for self rising, so I just buy self rising and use it for all my baking)
2 teaspoons baking powder (NOT soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries (if using frozen, do not defrost before using)

For the crumb topping ...
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup margarine, shortening or butter

This is really easy to make.
1. In a large bowl, cream together the 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup fat and the egg (no need to beat first). The mixture will be quite thick.
2. Add to this the 1/2 cup milk and mix well.
3. Then add the 2 cups flour, the 2 teaspoons baking powder and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. The mixture will be quite stiff. If it is too stiff to add the blueberries to, add a little more milk or some water to loosen it a bit.
4. Add the 2 cups blueberries and mix gently until well combined.

Now make the crumb topping.
1. Combine the 1/3 cup flour, the 1/2 cup sugar and the 1/2 teaspoon cinammon.
2. Cut in the 1/4 cup fat until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs.
3. Place the buckle mixture in a large greased dish (as pictured above, once again a Christmas present this last Christmas just gone from my sweet precious Papa Bear, another red earthenware dish. Can you tell a colour theme in our home?), sprinkle the crumb topping over, and then bake in a moderate oven. The recipe states that this should take between 45 - 50 minutes, but even in our fan assisted oven it took 55 minutes.
And it was well worth the wait ... becuase just yesterday, that whole big dish of buckle was all ... GONE!
Oh my goodness me!
But we did have some VERY happy and contented bears smiling at their empty plates! (even though Papa Bear's football team lost 1-0! Oh dear!).
Late on in the evening, I also made everyone some banoffee pie ice cream, in my new toy, my ice cream maker! It was ... oh so good! I will share the recipe for that another day though.
Love, Mama Bear xxxxxxx